Coca-Cola eyes cannabis-infused drinks market in Canada

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The Coca-Cola Company is in talks with Canadian firm Aurora Cannabis to develop marijuana-infused beverages, according to a BNN Bloomberg report.

If a collaboration were to go ahead, the companies would likely develop drinks infused with cannabidiol, referred to as CBD, that could ease inflammation, pain and cramping, the report said.

A partnership would see the first entry into the cannabis drinks market by a major manufacturer of non-alcoholic beverages.

Coca-Cola said in a statement: “Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world.  Space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.”

There has been a spike in activity in the cannabis sector after Canada voted to legalise the use of the drug in June. It is expected it will become fully legal on 17 October.

Canada’s statistics agency has suggested that the value of the country’s cannabis industry could be between CAD 5 billion ($3.76 billion) and CAD 7 billion ($5.27 billion).

A month ago, Constellation Brands – which makes alcoholic drinks such as Ballast Point, Svedka vodka and Casa Noble tequila – increased its stake in Canopy Growth Corporation investing another CAD 5 billion ($4 billion) in the Canadian supplier of medicinal marijuana.

The deal marks Constellation’s ambition to become a leading player in cannabis beverages; its CEO Bruce Linton said it was “the end of warmup” for cannabis and claimed that the size of opportunity beyond Canada – including markets in Europe, Latin America and even the US – was not fully appreciated.

Meanwhile, Molson Coors Canada has partnered with Canadian cannabis producer The Hydropothecary Corporation (Hexo) to create a joint venture selling cannabis-infused drinks.

As consumers turn to healthier alternatives than soft drinks, Coca-Cola has increasingly searched for growth in new markets and sectors. Earlier this month it bought British coffee chain Costa in a deal worth £3.9 billion.